We have high expectations when it comes to our products and the way they are made. To make sure that we meet these expectations, sustainability manager Julia regularly visits our partners abroad. We accompanied her to Turkey.

"We don't just show up and tell people what to do," Julia explains her approach to the job. "We want to grow with our partners and always talk on eye level. Respect and trust is very important to us. We want to establish longterm working relationships with our partners, that's a key ingredient in triggering change." Julia is in Istanbul for five days, meeting all three ARMEDANGELS production partners in the Turkish city. On her list: Our knitter, our flat knitter and our shirt manufacturer.

Sustainability Manager Julia visits partners in Istanbul, Turkey - ARMEDANGELS Eco + Fair Fashion Blog

The first factory we visit has a Fair Wear-audit scheduled that same day. Things get interesting.



"We're Fair Wear Foundation members. The FWF is an international initiative with the goal to improve the production chain and the working conditions in textile production sites all over the world." Julia explains the directive of the foundation: "It's about fair wages, safety at the workplace and a resource-friendly production. Child labour is prohibited while worker's unions are explicitly allowed." These rules and regulations and whether they are met is what's audited today. The Fairwear-auditors meet with the production partners on site – and with Julia, representing ARMEDANGELS at the audit.

Sustainability Manager Julia visits partners in Istanbul, Turkey - ARMEDANGELS Eco + Fair Fashion Blog

We watch Julia checking up on escape routes, rattle on fire-extinguishers, critically examining safety bulletins and questioning how accessible the eye shower really is. The audit is a success, the production site has improved drastically in various aspects. Julia is happy: "It's so good to come back here after half a year and see so many positive changes. They really made an effort and you can tell that it directly affects the working conditions for everybody."

Our flat knitter enjoys an excellent reputation.



Day two, we're off to visit our flat knitter. By talking to the workers here, we quickly understand that we have a top manufacturer on our hands. Everybody sings praises of the management and feels lucky to be working for a company which enjoys an excellent reputation in the industry. Again, Julia is impressed, too – and that's saying something, as Julia is seeing things average joes like ourselves wouldn't even notice.

Sustainability Manager Julia visits partners in Istanbul, Turkey - ARMEDANGELS Eco + Fair Fashion Blog

"We doubled our order at our flat knitter last year. Now that I'm here, I see that they used they extra income to bring a lot of improvements on the way. Very happy about that!" Julia says. "The development since the last audit is incredible. It's so tidy, clean, bright and structured now. You can tell the employees are happy, too." They now have a democratically elected workers' representative, the workspaces are more spacious, escape routes have improved. Overtime was reduced and they now have regular emergency drills as well as courses for the employees i.e. to help them understand their pay stub better.

Day three brings us to our shirt manufacturer. Production floors are busy.



A big order from another fashion house keeps everybody on their feet. We still manage to talk to a couple of workers (not without asking their supervisors for permission of course) and ask some questions. Meanwhile, Julia sits down with management. She wants to learn about the changes that have been realized since her last visit and find out what has not yet been done – and why. Again, she's successful. On her last visit, a couple of points on her list were problematic and she wasn't able to find a common ground with the supplier. This time, she comes out of the meeting with new insights and new, shared goals for the future. "It's a good feeling when, at the end of the day, you managed to get another step ahead. It's not always easy, that's why I come here in person. When you talk face to face, everything gets so much easier. We have to give our partners enough time to really grasp what it is we want and why. Our mission, the things we strive for, that's not normal in the textile industry. We have to be patient but persistent."

Sustainability Manager Julia visits partners in Istanbul, Turkey - ARMEDANGELS Eco + Fair Fashion Blog

A week in the life of a sustainability manager: It's been very interesting to accompany Julia through her work day, to learn what it needs to make the expectations we set for ourselves become a reality. She needs to bring perseverance, diplomacy and respect to the table – and the ability to maintain a cooperative dialogue even if there's a disagreement.
One thing that certainly helps in that regard: Very strong turkish coffee from very small cups. Luckily, getting one of those isn't a problem when you're a guest at our Turkish suppliers. Ever.

Read more about Julia's travels here.